This blog post has been contributed by Karen Zamel, SJAA Volunteer
Karen's 15 year old "Mopps"
As cats age, their health and wellness needs change – just like with adults. We have four cats at home, and three of them are “geriatric” – ages 13, 14 and 15. As with most pet owners, we want to keep them healthy and happy as long as possible. Our vet, Dr. Jane Johnson of Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos, has helped us learn about and address issues that occur for our aging family felines, and has been generous enough to share some of her important insights here.
Dr. Johnson has been part of the Adobe team since 1985 – first as a tech, and then as a vet. She has a degree in chemistry from Princeton, and a degree in Veterinary Medicine from UC Davis.
Many thanks to Dr. Johnson for these answers to our questions...
15 year old Bosco
1. At what age are cats considered "senior"?
Cats, especially indoor cats, can live over 20 years. They are considered "senior" starting at about 13 or 14 years old.
2. As pet owners, what should we watch for as our cats age?
The main things to watch for are changes – in appetite, drinking, weight, activity level, appearance, elimination habits, breathing – or the appearance of any symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea.
3. Are there differences in well care as our cats become older – for example, the frequency or type of vet visits?
In the older cat, we usually recommend coming in every 6 months instead of yearly, and we often will do blood tests, radiographs or other diagnostic procedures, especially if any of the above symptoms are present.
4. Dental issues are always a concern in senior cats...what kind of tooth and gum care do senior cats need?
Dental care should start at a young age, ideally with brushing the cat's teeth at least a few times weekly. In any case, the teeth and gums should be evaluated at each veterinary visit, and they should definitely be checked if you notice redness, bleeding, bad breath or masses in the mouth. Often times, the teeth need to be cleaned to eliminate plaque and the bacteria that can cause problems in the entire body. We do not recommend the anesthesia-free teeth cleaning, as these procedures do not address any decay or infection that may be occurring under the gums, and they can often lead to broken teeth and retained, infected roots.
5. What should we be alert about as our cats age? Are there changes that are okay, vs. changes we should be concerned about?
As in #2 above, most of the changes that you see in your older cat should at least be evaluated to make sure that they are part of natural aging, rather than part of a disease process. In older cats, probably the number one indication for seeing your vet would be the cat starting to drink more water – as cats age, they are prone to developing kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, or diabetes, and drinking extra water can be the first symptom of these problems.
Hamilton is available at the San Jose shelter
Consider Adopting a Senior…
Shelters are looking urgently to find temporary or permanent homes for mature and senior cats. These loving animals are often overlooked for kittens – even when they are perfect for the adoptee. Adopting a mature or senior cat from the local shelter can be a heart- and home-warming experience. These cats can provide amazing companionship, friendship, and love. A perfect example of a wonderful senior kitty is Hamilton
who is 8 years young. He has been waiting patiently at the San Jose Animal Care Center
while many kittens have been adopted. This confident love muffin is waiting for you to come and adopt him. Seniors rule!
Hi! My name is Spencer, ID#A781099
Look at this face!!!Spencer is 2 years old and LOVES people and dogs. He is getting very stressed at the shelter and is not doing well there. He has until Monday June 18th to find a home.Please go meet this wonderful dog today! He is at the San Jose Animal Care Center. Ask to meet Spencer - you won't be sorry! For more information about Spencer read his page here.
Ok - it is now officially the season to get get active and fit!
These three wonderful dogs are waiting to be adopted at the San Jose Animal Care Center and will become your own personal trainer :) Hikes, runs, long walks, beach combing, they will help you fit into that swimsuit in no time. Plus, you will receive unconditional love, snuggles, endless tail wagging AND you save a life!
Please help us spread the word about these loveable dogs! They have been waiting at the shelter too long, and the shelter, the volunteers and all of us at San Jose Animal Advocates want to find them good homes!! Click on the links below to learn more about each one of these special girls! Please go to the shelter TODAY and meet your new best friend. Dakota
These days, you can't have a conversation without someone saying, " I saw that on Facebook!" Whether you are a fan of social networking or not, you can't ignore it's power to connect people to a each other, to groups, to businesses, and in this case, to a cause to save a beautiful shelter dog.
Meet Nathaniel. Since May, Nathaniel lived at the San Jose Animal Care Center
. Every day, he patiently waited for someone to come to the shelter in search of a handsome, athletic, sweet dog who wanted nothing other than a home and a friendly human to love him. Did I mention that he is a pit bull mix? Unfortunately, with the bad press that never ceases to highlight this breed over all others, there are less humans out there who would consider Nathaniel because he has some pit bull in him.The time dragged on, but Nathaniel kept his attitude in check knowing that if he was a good boy, someone would come and take him home. Fortunately, there are these amazing people called shelter volunteers who shower the animals with love and give up their spare time to walk and assure them that the perfect person will come.This good dog, like many others, can only deal with so much confinement. Nathaniel was starting to exhibit classic kennel stress behavior. Unfortunately, the shelter has no other option but to put these animals on the euthanasia list since keeping them in the shelter environment indefinitely is inhumane.Nathaniel's time was up. His outlook was bleak. Little did he know that social networking would save him. San Jose Animal Advocates decided to place a paid advertisement to plead the animal-loving population of San Jose to take action and save this dog before it was too late. He had 24 hours for someone to go to the shelter and adopt him.
Maybe it was his photo with his soft grey eyes saying, "I've been a good boy, and have waited for so long". Whatever it was, due to one Facebook advertisement, Nathaniel's future guardian found him just in time. To this good citizen who is on Facebook and took immediate action to save Nathaniel's life, we salute you! And to Facebook, well I guess I'm a believer now of the good that this phenomenon can do. I might even rent The Social Network
There is another very deserving dog whose life hangs in the balance. Please see Dallas' Facebook page
and share with your friends.
Lastly, many people didn't realize that our local shelter, San Jose Animal Care Center
is not a no-kill shelter. It isn't. It takes in over 20,000 animals a year, and is one of the largest shelters in California. There are many Nathaniels, Dallases, and so many beautiful, loving animals (dogs, cats, bunnies and rats) who keep hoping you will come and take them home. Go visit today and find your next best friend.
The below video is for Nathaniel:
Our local shelters and rescue groups are overflowing with adoptable dogs looking for homes and most people don't realize there is a problem.
Why is this happening? Many believe that the over abundance of dogs is due to the slow economy. Dogs are being surrendered or abandoned because people can't afford to keep them. Ironically, at the same time, the pet food/supply industry continues to grow with people spending more on their pets than they ever have. I think the fundamental problem is that people don't realize this problem exists or how to help. What can we, the animal-loving community of the greater San Jose area do to make a difference in the lives of these dogs?
Maisy at the San Jose Animal Care Center
1 - Tell everyone who expresses an interest in adopting a dog to VISIT THEIR LOCAL SHELTER FIRST!!!
The dogs in our area shelters are in the most danger of being euthanized, especially when there are too many of them and not enough space. In the greater San Jose area we have *3 local shelters, all of which are pleasant places to visit. San Jose Animal Care Center
, Humane Society Silicon Valley
, and Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority
all have wonderful dogs looking for homes to call their own. Before visiting a shelter you can peruse the available dogs online. Each shelter maintains a website of available animals which is updated frequently. *Santa Clara County Shelter is not far, in San Martin.
Oso at Humane Society Silicon Valley
2 - Didn't find a perfect match at the shelters? Check out the MANY great rescue organizations in our area.
has a list of the local dog rescue organizations which are in the greater San Jose area. Please check out their websites to view their available dogs. If someone is interested in a specific breed, before they start looking for a breeder, remind them that there are numerous breed specific rescue groups. In California, there are MANY breed specific rescue organizations like Norcal Golden Retriever Rescue
or Golden Gate Basset Rescue
to name a few. There are even rescue groups that specialize in older dogs such as Muttville
. The majority of shelters and rescue organizations list their dogs on Petfinder.com
. Type in the breed you are looking for and your zip code and you'll get a list of shelter/rescue dogs meeting your criteria within seconds!
Izaka at Santa Clara County Shelter in San Martin
3 - Stay away from Craigslist!
On Craigslist you will often find many offers for free puppies (animals should never be free) or "pure bred" puppies at a high price from unreliable backyard breeders. Do not advocate supporting these sources for animals. Remember, close to 1 million adoptable companion animals are being euthanized in our shelters because people are looking to other sources to "buy" their pet. Looking for puppies? Shelters and rescue groups have puppies all of the time! Looking for purebred dogs, see #2 and go to the many rescue groups who work tirelessly to save dogs from overcrowded shelters. Advocate being part of the solution, not the problem! If everyone just told one person they know where to adopt their next pet, we would be making a HUGE difference!
Sheldon at San Jose Animal Care Center
4 - Volunteer at your local shelter.
Do you have a little spare time to give to animals? All shelters have a wide variety of volunteer tasks you can take on. From walking dogs, to helping with adoptions, there is no limit to the impact you can have on the shelter animals. Why not give a little love to a dog who is waiting for their permanent home? Of course, remember to give a hug to your dog at home too!
Lefty at Humane Society Silicon Valley
5 - Become a dog foster parent.
All shelters and rescue groups are constantly looking for foster homes for their animals. With more foster homes, they can save more dogs! Being a foster parent is extremely rewarding and bottom line, saves lives. Check out our foster section
and pick any organization, go to their website, and they will have a foster application and/or information on how to get involved as a potential foster parent! You will not regret it, I promise you.
6 - Advocate for spay/neuter.
If you know anyone who hasn't spayed or neutered their dog, PLEASE tell them that this is a must! Many local shelters and organizations in the greater San Jose area offer reduced cost spay/neuter services
. Much of the pet overpopulation problem stems from the many unwanted litters that easily can be prevented.
Jazzy from Muttville senior dog rescue
7 - Consider adopting a senior dog.
Many people overlook older dogs and opt for a puppy or very young dog. Are you sure you are ready for a puppy or a teenage dog? Younger dogs need A LOT of training and exercise. Older dogs are typically already trained and their personality is already formed. With a busy life style, an older dog may be a lot easier to bring into your household. Look at Jazzy, age 10, from Muttville
, a Bay Area rescue that specializes in older dogs. He was saved from an area shelter a day before he was going to be euthanized. Wouldn't you like to come home to him every night? Look at those beautiful brown eyes!Please, please, please SHARE this post with people you know!
We can make a difference in the lives of animals in our community one at a time. If you need help in your quest to adopt a shelter or rescue animal, feel free to contact us
. Do you have an adoption story to share, please feel free to contact us
too. In closing, the Shelter Pet Project
has made some very effective and charming videos to help raise awareness for shelter pets. Let's try to help more shelter/rescue dogs end up like the dog in the video.